KrumdieckCarlos Luis Krumdieck, 1932 - 2016

Carlos Luis Krumdieck, Ph.D., one of the early leaders and founding faculty of the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the UAB School of Health Professions, passed away in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 6, 2016, of Parkinson's disease. During his time at UAB he served as vice chairman and director of nutritional biochemistry.

Dr. Krumdieck, together with his colleagues Charles E. Butterworth and Roland L. Weinsier, founded the Department of Nutrition Sciences in 1977. The Department was chartered at that time by UAB President, Dr. S. Richardson Hill, Jr., as an academic department that was jointly aligned with three schools: the School of Health Professions, the School of Medicine, and the School of Dentistry.

Dr. Krumdieck first came to UAB in 1967 and, along with Charles M. Baugh, Ph.D., pursued chemical synthesis of folyl-polyglutamates. They conducted pioneering studies on the digestion and absorption of dietary folates. Their work discovered that the anticancer folate antagonist methotrexate was itself converted to polyglutamyl derivatives, a finding that significantly helped in understanding the pharmacology of the anti-folates.

In the 1970s, with a focus on nutrition and cancer risk, epidemiological evidence suggested an interaction between oral contraceptive agents, folic acid deficiency, and endometrial cancer. This prompted ground breaking studies by Butterworth, Krumdieck, and collaborators supporting this putative interaction. Shortly thereafter, Krumdieck became a leading proponent of the novel concept of localized nutrient deficiencies, in particular, tissues chronically exposed to agents such as tobacco smoke, known to accelerate the destruction of labile micronutrients, would be more likely to undergo neoplastic transformation. 

In 1985, Krumdieck began his work on the role of dietary components and related synthetic analogs as potential cancer chemopreventive agents. That same year Krumdieck was given the Borden Award by the American Institute of Nutrition for outstanding contributions to nutrition research in the area of folic acid metabolism. Krumdieck, along with Charles W. Prince, Ph.D., who joined the department in 1987, initiated studies on the role of homocysteine, an amino acid that requires folic acid for its metabolism, on the pathogenesis of presbyopia and osteoporosis. And in 1991, the need to measure energy expenditure in humans, both during rest and during physical activity, led Krumdieck and others to construct a room calorimeter which has been actively used to study human metabolism to this day.

From its inception, the Department of Nutrition Sciences was based on a philosophy of interdisciplinary collaboration involving many departments and several schools, a theme that has resonated during the tenures of all three Department chairs, Charles Butterworth, Roland Weinsier, and the current chair W. Timothy Garvey. Dr. Krumdieck’s professional life epitomized this collaborative theme by working a diverse group of scientists trained in many disciplines with a unifying interest in nutrition. Towards the end of his career at UAB, Dr. Krumdieck remained active as a Professor Emeritus but retired with his wife Jeannette to North Carolina several years ago. 

Dr. Krumdieck was also active in his workshop at home, where, in addition to fine furniture, he built the first live tissue microtome, the Krumdieck Tissue Slicer, which has been used in laboratories around the world. He was a kind man, patient, and generous with his time, particularly to his students. He will be missed, and our condolences to his family and friends as well as his former students and colleagues.

Click here to read his full remembrance on Legacy.com.